Sawdust City

by Arms Aloft

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I don't remember if I got sick or I got tired first, but I ain't been not both in a minute. It don't matter if I went under or just went swimming first. Either way, I'm down here in it.
Irish Coffee 03:01
If you don't say that you need it, does it just walk away, so fleeting? Does it burn a hole through your stomach wall? The papers go unread and form a small monument to failure. I know it brings out the best in me. Still aware of reason, but that fucker's cracked from freezing. I'm so far from beginning. You've been eating nothing but cigarettes. You've been drinking nothing but Irish coffee. It burns a hole through your stomach wall. I've been doing nothing but sleeping. I've been dreaming of nothing but keeping in, and I know it brings out the best in me. So why should I be afraid? If there's nothing but minimum wage to get me out the door. If there's only loss and despair. You find a reason to wake up. You run to live it out, as if nothing short of death could keep you dead. I'm feeling sick of being used and waiting to be used. Waiting just for nothing.
A name on a map, the stench of shit and tar. A neglected speed limit, a well-attended church and bar. We're a handpainted "For Sale" sign in a haze 3 decades old. Skeleton of a place so many once called home. Hoar frost on a power line. A million wasted days and as many wasted minds. When the farming's done in factories, what's left to do under gray skies? Left for dead out here a half-century ago. Fallow fields like bodies hidden beneath the snow. St. Peter, please don't call us cause we can't afford to go. We owe our homes and souls to those on the trading floor. Sold for pennies on the dollar just minutes before we spotted water creeping up towards our front door. And God knows we've been bet against. We've got Monsanto seeds and hands stained a dead yellow. Hedged into penniless irrelevance. Only bill collectors ever seem to call. Existing solely cause snow needs a place to fall.
Every shift is a graveyard and every step is a sigh. Every smile from a stranger is a new cause for doubt and a lowering of eyes. So I'm dragging my feet around this place like I'm dragging a lake, trying to uncover a corpse; the remains of the hours still left in the day. I dreamt last night of resignation. Giving in's the stuff of dreams when buried 40 hours deep in another year-long week. Just let me sleep. It's a nightly reminder to my conscience of the comforts my compromises afford me. It's a story written on a bad check in red pen of failing to make these dead ends meet. Exhaustion closes my eyes for me. A few hours of restless sleep. Detatchment: Only slight relief. Cut my regrets with apathy. So what's the difference if there's a light at the end of a tunnel that will just end up caving in?
Skinny Love 03:11
February days are good for nothing but split lips. A winter spent exhausted but sleepless, but I've always heard it called a problem when someone does something alone. So I'll just keep spinning "...Further West" and I'll get my five hours a night at best. At least if I don't wake up in the morning, my head can't start hurting. Here's to waking up shaking, balled up on the floor of an iced-over, winter Lake Superior. Raise a flag at half-mast and a half-empty glass in a toast to remembering what it's like to not have to know she's sleeping somewhere else tonight. It's quarter past the third double blur on the right and this apartment's pale, yellow lights are really bringing out the blue in the bags under my sunken eyes. I still can't shake this fucking cough and I still catch myself way too often hoping that I only have to miss her till I finally find my way to sleep.
As my veins pump bitter coffee and things a bit more sinister, the flat spots start to feel a lot like hills. Wish we could teach ourselves to regret the meds we self-administer, but here's to "pissing in the wind and shitting where we take our meals". Painting ghost bikes for the kids who won't look left a second time. To the checked swings and deep breaths, offer this as our reply. Woven into the rope from which we're hanging, etched into the beam to which it's tied: "You might have finally kicked the chair out, but at least we fucking tried." Another midwestern winter sends us reeling and retreating to five months devoid of any aspiration. The sky and I grow grayer a little more with each defeat and wait for spring, an open highway or at least something worth chasing. Cause we're all looking for something to be. So we sing other people's words in hopes that we will stop singing like we mean it and just start singing what we mean but sometimes the light at the end of the dock's just fucking green.
There's something in the air and all kinds of shit in the water in the wake of everything we do. Said the bulldozered trees to the bomb-leveled cities, "Why can't they fucking see I'm just like you?" Top kill! Put a truckload of mud down the throats of the best-dressed motherfuckers in the room. Barring high wind or water, we'll have finally plugged up the holes from where the real pollution spews. So it goes. So it went. Nothing's changed. Things are just the way that they've always been. We're worth nothing more than what we're paid for and how much we spend. Good evening, tonight's lead-in story is another dead B-lister's blues. Said the paycheck to the paycheck and the lamb to the slaughter, "It's one hell of a road from me to you." And "Everything was beautiful", she said. "But there was no place to park." And nothing hurt so bad as the things that came after the start.
The same fucking thieves who start laughing when we've hit the bottom and start looking for trapdoors, kept their faces straight when they told us as kids that there's gold it ain't foolish to dig for. And now I don't remember if I got sick or I got tired first, but I ain't been not both in a minute. Yeah, I'm fucking finished. We stick to the bottom. Keep the lights and our sights down low. Pick through the trash. Drink next to the tracks. Yeah, we're fucking crows. And as the band played "Hail To The Chief", we snuck out through the cellar door. And when the band stopped playing, we got shipped off to war. We'll die of thirst before we'll be quenched by what you allow to trickle down.Try to tell us we're circling the drain. You don't get it, we got that fucker surrounded. And it don't matter if I went under or just quit swimming first. Either way I'm down here in it. Maybe since the beginning
Another late night, sitting up, strumming a slow one, a long one, a sad one about the nights you can't seem to get numb enough. Hands and strings. Fever dreams. This basement reeks like my habits. Sandpaper silk, a handful of pills. Pick a reason and chip away at it. Wipe the sawdust and cinders from my eyes. We forget the words to the songs, click our heels beneath the bar singing, "Sometimes there's no place like gone." 4414, a time or three. Don't fucking turn it off, we're still singing. 1515, buried far beneath. Keep gettin knocked down but we're still swinging. Is it just water or wine under bridges keeps us from walking away down the river. We roll in our early graves, while Shalom and Rekshit paint a starlit if miserable picture.
10/22/1884 02:29
The best captains stand ashore and the best preachers know how to speak like the poor. Pickpockets cloaked in evangelism. In the fine print below, "Amen" it says we're fundamentally worthless. Bottom line of the New Multinational Version. I'll tie my common sense to a brick and throw it through your stained-glass window. Forbidden fruitless smash-n-grab. Nothing here of value, just commercials. ...but for the grace of God only knows, a far more hope-starved bastard's offering goes. Extorted by the organized divine. I'll render unto the churches only that which is the church's, not a penny or good grace of mine. Tie my naivete onto a anchor, chain it to your walk on water. Shake my head at your first step then watch you sink down to the ocean floor.
She said, "Never Knows Best", put a match to her last cigarette and stared from the bridge downtown toward the river bank. She took hold of my hand, dragged me to the edge of dry land, and with sticks in the mud wrote our names and drew a couple of blanks. And I said, "Nothing out of the ordinary happens in this place.", then she bet me my last dollar that they'd flatten it someday. Sour drinks and medicine. Headaches and arsonists. I'll burn down yours if you burn down mine. When everyday's just an attempt to leave behind the things that keep you needing medicine and television, I'll burn down yours if you burn down mine.
I was a split fifth crater-side, window shopping for returned smiles. I was wasted but I was placed straight for a while. And I was something thousand high for a day, feeling like home was the last place I wanted to be. Why couldn't you just be here with me? From the High Streets to the red lights, via the fuckin moon and a rough night, with a stop on a stranger's floor around sunrise. From the flash floods to the long drives. Service to somewhere that's open all night. Don't let me crash until we've arrived. The lights from the street fill your place here next to me, though I know even if I somehow fall asleep, I'll just forget to breathe and end up wishing I'd stayed the lesser of two shitty shapes nights make of me. When I get home I'll re-weigh the things that keep making me leave against the one and only thing that keeps me sweeping sawdust around this city. No way to explain to you the perfect sense these places make to me. So highlight, tip your head back, count to three on the only stars the streetlights let us see. At least promise you'll bury me someplace just a bit warmer than here, with a plastic bag or two and no sight of you, so I can sleep with the things that I fear.


All revenue from sales of Arms Aloft digital music from now til whenever will be forwarded on to the comrades at the ACLU. Thanks, on their behalf!


released October 23, 2012


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Arms Aloft Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Hello Comrades! We believe that punk rock should be counterculture not subculture. We believe that punk needs to be as aggressive to the world around it as the world is to the people who find a life in punk rock. We believe that punk can exist in stark contrast to capitalism. Despite all that, we've put out a couple of records and toured at home and in Europe too much. ... more

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